French poll on “Tridentine Mass”

Rorate does it again. They posted an interesting poll taken of French Catholics, if I understand it right, about whether they would like the chance to attend Masses in Latin, with chant, or with the "Tridentine" Missal. You should be going to Rorate often, of course, but today I will reprint some of what they provided. Here is the source. The poll was taken by a well-known agency in France.

1) Do you believe it is desirable that Catholics may have the choice to, according to their sensibility, go to either the Traditional Mass in Latin with Gregorian chant or to the Modern Mass in French?

Yes: 65%
No: 13%
Do not care: 22%

2) If you had the occasion to occasionally go to a Mass in Latin with Gregorian [chant], what would you say?

I would go: 60%
I would not go: 39%
No answer: 1%

3) In your opinion, the fact that various kinds of celebrations of the Mass, one Traditional, in Latin and with Gregorian [chant], and the other modern in French, may be recognised by the Church would be…?

A good thing, because it allows for some diversity within the Church: 65%
A bad thing, because it risks provoking divisions within the Church: 31%
No answer: 4%

4) If a Mass in its Traditional form were celebrated, in Latin and with the permission of the Pope, close to your home, you would say…

I would go there frequently: 6%
I would go there occasionally: 31%
I do not know if I would got there or not: 12%
I would rarely go there: 29%
I would never go there: 22%

Interesting, n’est-ce pas?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Checking the French site from which the data is taken,
    it appears that this poll is only for the diocese of
    Rheims. This doesn’t really matter since Rheims is
    probably a middle of the road diocese–less observant
    than the far west, less secularized than other areas.
    Also note at the source site that the group that
    commissioned the study are soliciting funds to help
    pay for it. This would be a worthy charity.

  2. Andrew says:

    There was another study done some time ago and the question proposed was: “should this innocent man be crucified?” – And the vast majority voted with a definitive “yes”.

    Odi profanum vulgus et arceo.

  3. Dear Fr. Z.,

    You are most welcome.

    For what it’s worth, the poll reflects my impressions of American Catholics who regularly attend church. I would say one in 20 observant Catholics would probably choose to go to the Tridentine Mass regularly (if it were as easily available as other Masses, e.g. not on Sunday afternoon or Saturday night–the most common places it gets stuck when the parish isn’t an indult parish as a whole).

    I think the 2/3 in favor of making it available and 1/3 again is probably right. People generally don’t care what Masses are available for other people so long as they get what they want at the time they want it. The 1/3 against allowing it probably mostly say that because they are worried that they might end up getting stuck going to something they don’t want. I would guess that the percentage that would deprive others of the Old Mass on principle are about the same as the number who would go to one regularly–about 1 in 20.

    For me the interesting number was the 30% who would go “occasionally.” This might be high for the US. I would have guessed maybe 20%. If 30% is right, I suspect that the number of regular attenders would probably go up a bit eventually after they become familiar with the Old Rite since the curiosity factor seems strong and that suggests a lack of complete satisfaction with the New Rite as it is executed.

    –Fr. Augustine O.P.

  4. Tim Ferguson says:

    Personally, I believe that if the 1962 Missal were made more widely available, the number of those who would attend “occasionally” would certainly increase. As Fr. Augustine states, the curiosity factor is strong and where the Mass is not relegated to some out-of-the-way chapel at an inconvenient time, attendance is pretty steady. I similarly doubt that, in the near future, it would be the “Mass of choice” for the majority, who have taken to Mass in the vernacular, but I think it would have the positive effect of increasing demand for more reverence in the parochial celebrations of the Novus Ordo.

    In any case, I’m certain that we need to continue our prayers for the Holy Father. The amount of press that the French bishops have been getting on this issue, and the near-silence on the part of the remaining bishops of the Church could make it seem as though the deck is stacked against him. I’m confident that Benedict is not a man of the polls and will seek to do what is right, rather than what is popular, still, tilting against what could be perceived as the majority of the episcopate currently living cannot be a pleasant place to be for this or any other Pope. Oremus!

  5. RBrown says:

    Mon Dieu, this is a meeting of old friends.

    I think it should be pointed out that France, unlike the US, has not been influenced by Protestantism, and so the French still have a fairly pure concept of the Catholic Church, not mitigated by a subjective re-evaluation of Catholic culture. They might be taken with secular culture, but they don’t confuse it with their Catholic heritage.

    To put it another way: The French are famous pour leur fantastiques plastiques (e.g., Centre Pompidou, La Defense, and the pyramid at the Louvre), but they still understand those buildings are intended for secular activities–they are no substitute for the Gothic cathedrals.

  6. Catholic Lady says:

    I believe if the so-called Tridentine Mass were more widely available, closer to one’s residence and at a time as convenient as other Masses, there would be a great increase in attendance. Some would attend only because it was at a convenient time and at their local parish, but they could become more interested in it if exposed to it even occasionally.

  7. New Catholic says:

    Father Thompson is absolutely MISTAKEN. The Poll was hired by the “Association Paix Liturgique”, a national French association which is completely independent from the Collectif pour la Paix Liturgique à Reims, which only made the poll public. The information is clear “65% des Français Catholiques”. Paix Liturgique à Reims did not even pay for the poll.

    The Collectif Paix Liturgique à Reims, to which we linked, even answered another person who could not read well:

    Nous vous remercions de votre question. Elle nous permet de bien préciser que le sondage de CSA concerne les catholiques de FRANCE.
    Bien évidemment, nous pouvons sans craindre nous tromper penser que les catholiques du diocèse de Reims ressemblent aux catholiques français.

    En union de prières

  8. RBrown says:

    “Father Thompson is absolutely MISTAKEN”


    How can he be absolutely mistaken if he only said that it “appears the poll is from Rheims”?

  9. New Catholic says:

    Father Thompson was somewhat mistaken.


    I am sorry if I sounded uncharitable to anyone. This poll must be widely shared, since it was a privately-paid poll and has been ignored by many news agencies. It shows there is simply no rejection among French Catholics of a measure of liberalization.

    Thank you for your links, as usual, Father Zuhlsdorf.

  10. Peter Witness says:

    New Catholic,

    As you posted a reply (in French) from the organization
    who commissioned the poll, even French readers (who asked for
    clarification, as it seems) were unclear about whom
    the poll’s results represented.

    So why the insulting treatment of Fr. Thompson?
    Especially since he seems to be a supporter of the
    Traditonal Latin Mass. This is the kind of abuse of
    Catholic priests for not being pure enough that
    results in anti-Traditionalist attitudes among
    Orthodox clergy.

    Thanks to RBrown for his decent intervention.

  11. Al Trovato says:

    Mr. Witness,

    As for some French readers not understanding French, your point merely shows that reading comprehension eludes some people no matter what language they happen to stumble upon.

  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    It seems as though Mr. Trovato and New Catholic, who may be the same person, are insistent upon showing how enlightened they are in comparison to hoi polloi. Thankfully, they do condescend kindly enough to permit our continued existence.

    One wonders why so many supporters of Traditional liturgy are so intent upon insulting and destroying their friends as well as their enemies…

  13. Al Trovato says:

    Mr. Ferguson,

    Just for the record, are you friend or foe?

    No, New Catholic and I are not the same person, really.

    I know that Father Thompson did not wish to discredit the poll, but by raising doubts about its scope he indirectly discredited it, and he did so at a very crucial moment.

    By the way, the notion that nothing is being lost because he prefaced his statement with “it appears…” is risible. Would it be OK to say that so-and-so “appears” to be dumb? Of course, not.

    P.S. Father Zuhlsdorf, I know you do all of this out of true charity, and I’m sorry for this unpleasant exchange. If you wish, please feel free to delete all that I said.

  14. Jeff says:

    Gee, I thought that New Catholic’s original remark was only verrry slightly testy and understandably so. I didn’t read it as an attack on Fr. Thompson. The good Father made an understandable goof of the kind everyone makes now and then. New Catholic understandably wanted to correct the record, came across unintentionally as harsh when he meant to be firm and earnest and apologized.

    I don’t see why we aren’t just all grateful that he found the fascinating poll!

  15. RBrown says:

    By the way, the notion that nothing is being lost because he prefaced his statement with “it appears…” is risible. Would it be OK to say that so-and-so “appears” to be dumb? Of course, not


    No one can be absolutely mistaken unless he claims (or thinks) that he is absolutely certain. When Fr A used “appears”, it indicates that his conclusion is possible–not apodictic.

    Thus, to say that someone appears to be dumb leaves open the possibility that it is not true.

  16. RBrown says:

    “Father Thompson was somewhat mistaken.


    I am sorry if I sounded uncharitable to anyone.”

    I questioned your accuracy, not your charity.

  17. RBrown says:

    About 35 years ago when I was a student at the Univ of Kansas, a few of us went to the parish priest, who had given me instruction a year or so earlier, to request Latin mass. We were told yes, but he wouldn’t say a low mass–we needed a chant choir. Well, a chemistry professor had taken a chant class when he was at Notre Dame, so he led a small group of us in chant.

    Not wanting to step on toes, the pastor put the mass at what was always the least popular time. The day of the mass arrived, and–I am not exaggerating–the church was packed, with people standing in the aisles. The feedback was excellent, even though, no false humility here, our chant choir was not very good.

    We were allowed only one mass a month, and the attendance was always good. People who wanted it came, and those who didn’t went at another time. But after about 3 or 4 months, the Archbishop of KC (Strecker–rhymes with Wrecker) shut it down–no more Latin masses. (I wonder whether Bp Sklystad would be concerned about the Arch’s “pastoral sensitivity”).

    My point in telling the story is that I doubt that there would be similar attendance today. Why? The vitality of the Church has been so deadened that not as many would be interested.

  18. Tim Ferguson says:

    I agree, RBrown – part of the task before us is cultivating an interest in the Latin Mass – part and parcel of that “new evangelization” which Pope John Paul spoke of: not just bringing souls to the Church, but bringing life back to the Church.

    I worked for a couple years at a moderately high class steakhouse – a chain with some hundred or so stores throughout the US and in a few other countries. While I was there, the corporate wine steward came to give us a conference. The company had developed, under his direction, a program for increasing wine consumption and sophistication among their clientele. He found that when they opened a new location, if the wine list was long and complex, few customers ordered it. They were afraid of looking like fools to the waitstaff if they ordered “the wrong wine.” The wine steward developed a plan whereby new stores would only offer a limited selection of wines – usually basic, relatively cheap and familiar wines, with four or five top shelf choices. Gradually, more were added and the chablis and monstrosity known as white zin were limited or removed. The serving staff were led through wine tasting classes, and given the skills to be able to recommend wines without being pretentious (our manager told us flat out that anyone who laughed at a customer’s wine selection would be fired on the spot).

    Though what were dealing with here is a good deal more serious than wine, I think the analogy could hold. In most parishes, to roll out a full course of Palestrina, Gregorian chant and Mass ad orientem, would cause little more than a revolution. Yet gradually, and patiently, people’s hunger for the Traditional Mass can be fostered. At the Tridentine Mass in Detroit, offered only once weekly with the Archbishop’s permission, we’ve seen not tremendous growth in numbers, but a steady uptick, and, besides the regular attendees and parishioners, a good number of visitors new to the Mass each week. In time, that hunger can be developed and fostered. Unfortunately, so many bishops and priests continue to look at the matter with hostility, and their hostility is met with further hostility on the part of those who embrace tradition, which is then used to justify (wrongly) contrary action. Patience, charity and perseverance (in the immortal words of the late, great Msgr. Gilligan of St. Paul) will win the day.

  19. Andrew says:

    And something could also be said in favor of obligatory compulsion. Not everything should be left up to the whims of individuals. Refinement comes with a price; not without an effort. Higher standards must be imposed on the masses: folks don’t naturally desire what is better.

    … quod cum labore meminimus, sine labore obliviscimur; cum labore discimus, sine labore nescimus; cum labore strenui, sine labore inertes sumus. Nonne hinc apparet, in quid velut pondere suo proclivis et prona sit vitiosa natura et quanta ope, ut hinc liberetur, indigeat? Desidia, segnitia, pigritia, neglegentia, vitia sunt utique quibus labor fugitur, cum labor ipse, etiam qui est utilis, poena sit. (S. Augustinus; De Divitate Dei, liber 22, cap. 22, pars secunda).

    … what we remember with difficulty, without difficulty we forget. We learn with difficulty, and without difficulty we remain ignorant. We are alert with difficulty, and without difficulty we are indolent. Does not this show how wounded nature inclines and tends to drag us down by its own weight, and what succor it needs if it is to be delivered? Inactivity, sloth, laziness, negligence, are vices which shun labor, since labor, even when useful, is viewed as punishment.

    Reverent liturgy in the absence of some rather rigid mandate from ecclesiastical authority? Dream on! Leave it up to the “majority” and we’ll have guitars and vernacularization everywhere.

  20. fr.franklyn says:

    I agree with Tim Ferguson the reintroduction of the TLM,provided itis celebrated worthily,is part of the new evangelization and the new springtime of the church predicted by JPII (and I also remember Pius XII predicting the same).I do believe the renewal of the church is taking place here and there but it needs an engine,and the engine of renewal is the TLM.At the end of the retreat I gave for the FSSP I told them this.The hardcore probably would not want to hear it but it is groups like the FSSP,the Canons of the New Jerusalem(I love that name)na dht ICK among other such groups who are the harbingers of thenew dawn.I told them that for many Catholics the TLM is not something old but something NEW.The NO reverently done wheths the appetite but cannot satisfy the spiritual longings of the age.It was Dorothy Day who claimed the TLM gave her the spiritual power to do her work.But it will be opposed by the new “prophets of doom” like the French bishops.There is another poll out ,this one taken by Le Figaro and it shows support for the liberalization of the TLM at 79%!!!!Those French bishops really do know their flock.The indult may be the catalyst to the revival of the church in France and throughout Europe.

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